DNR Encourages Hunters To Test For CWD

Jess Carstens, DNR area wildlife supervisor 

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – In cooperation with local businesses, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff will collect deer heads for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing during the 2020 deer hunting seasons. 

Managing CWD begins with knowing where the disease exists on the landscape, and having this knowledge is only possible with robust sample numbers provided by hunters. Hunters who harvest an adult deer in Buffalo, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin and Trempealeau counties are strongly encouraged to have their deer tested for CWD. 

The DNR is also offering property-specific CWD surveillance permits on private land within the Chippewa Valley and Dunn County surveillance areas. Those interested in applying for a CWD surveillance permit should contact Terry Shaurette at 608- 386-2368. 

Since 2017, six wild deer have tested positive for CWD in the Eau Claire area. In 2019, the first wild CWD positive deer was found in Dunn County. CWD sampling will continue to be a priority in the intensive surveillance areas surrounding these detections. 

CWD testing is free of charge. A sample consists of the deer head with 3-5 inches of neck attached. Hunters will also need to have their harvest authorization number, harvest location and contact information when submitting a sample. New this year, hunters may submit this information online rather than using a paper form. Hunters can find a link to the new digital form in their registration confirmation email and in their harvest history in Go Wild. 

During an average year, results are typically available 10-14 days after the deer is brought to a sampling station. This year, hunters will likely experience delays due to complications from COVID-19. To protect the health of department staff, the DNR has reduced the number of staff per shift at our sample processing center. Despite adding shifts, the daily volume of processed samples will be reduced from previous years.  

“We estimate that results will be available 2-3 weeks after the deer head or tissue sample is received unless unforeseen circumstances cause further delay in either our field operations or at the CWD processing center,” said Tami Ryan, DNR wildlife health section chief. “We thank hunters for their patience as we seek to provide our services during these unprecedented times.” 

To view CWD results for a harvested deer, visit the DNR’s website. Hunters will need to enter a customer ID or CWD sample bar code number to view test results. If test results come back positive for CWD, advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services (DHS) and the World Health Organization is for hunters not to consume venison from that deer.

World Health Organization is for hunters not to consume venison from that deer. 

“We’re grateful for hunters making that extra effort to have their deer sampled for CWD, and to support them, we continue to make access to sampling options easier each year,” Ryan said. “Each deer sample is important because it contributes to an overall understanding of the health of Wisconsin’s deer herd and the distribution of CWD across the state.” 

CWD Sampling Locations 

Hunters have several options available to have their deer sampled for CWD, and all locations can be found on the DNR website. Details about locations may be modified throughout the season, so make sure to check the location nearest you before your hunt. 

In addition to a network of 24/7 self-service sampling stations around the state, many meat processors and businesses offer in-person sampling assistance. 

Hunters should contact in-person sampling stations in advance to verify hours of operation. For an interactive map with sampling locations available in your area, visit the DNR website. There is also a searchable database available as an alternative to the map view. Lastly, there is also a link available on the menu in the Hunt Wild app. 

Deer Carcass Disposal 

Hunters are encouraged to dispose of deer carcass waste in a licensed landfill or transfer station that accepts this waste or in a dumpster designated for deer carcass waste. If a municipality allows deer disposal curbside or at a transfer station, the carcass should be double bagged. If these options are not available and the deer was harvested on private land, burying the deer carcass waste or returning it to the location of kill are the next best options. 

Hunters can find a map with the CWD sampling locations and deer carcass disposal locations on the DNR website as well as in the Hunt Wild app. 

Baiting and Feeding 

Hunters are reminded that baiting and feeding are prohibited in some counties. Check the DNR’s baiting and feeding webpage for updates. No counties in the state will be removed from the ban during the 2020 deer hunting seasons. 

Prevent the Spread of CWD 

Voluntarily following recommended practices can reduce and prevent the spread of CWD. Those include proper carcass transportation, handling and disposal, reporting sick deer, following baiting and feeding regulations, cleaning and disinfecting equipment and following urine-based scent recommendations. 

Sick Deer Reports

DNR staff members are interested in reports of sick deer. To report a sick deer, contact local wildlife staff or call DNR Customer Service at 1-888-936-7463. 

More information on CWD is available on the DNR website.